- Booster Gold
Monday, July 13, 2020
By now you've got your hands on last week's Harley Quinn #74, right? So you've seen this:
I have mixed feelings about this.
On the one hand, if Booster and Harley were real people and not comic book characters, they'd deserve the same chance at happiness as everyone else. Regardless of the fact that she was trying to kill him as recently as a year ago, the pair would still have the right to seek happy, fulfilling romantic relationships regardless of their past history or public opinion. Whatever anyone outside the relationship (read: me) thinks about the suitability of the pairing of a jock from the future and a psychopath's gun moll should be irrelevant to that relationship.
On the other hand, neither Harley nor Booster is a real person. They are comic book characters who have become widely recognized by fans for being in decades-long relationships with other members of their same sex. Booster's relationship with BFF and fellow hero Blue Beetle has always been intimate but canonically platonic, yet the dastardly damsels Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy have chosen a more physical relationship. (As is the norm in American popular entertainment, the good guys have to play it straight while the femme fatales enjoy "forbidden" love.) Is it a coincidence that these two standard-bearers of non-traditional relationships were chosen to enter into a gender-conforming heterosexual relationship by publishers, editors, writers, and artists who should be aware of the characters' metatextual associations? I find that hard to believe.
As I said, mixed feelings.
Am I reading too much into it? Maybe. That might be the fault of my liberal arts education: looking for meaning where none exists. Maybe I'm grasping at external reasons to justify my own irrational expectations of my hero's choice of girlfriend. Who knows? Since I strongly believe that one should never ascribe to malice that which is adequately explained by incompetence, I think I will choose to look on the bright side and give love a chance.
Good luck, you crazy kids.
Friday, July 10, 2020
Today I present to you my single favorite Booster Gold panel.
As much as I love the work of Kevin Maguire and Adam Hughes, it's not from Booster's Justice League tryout or KooeyKooeyKooey any other Justice League International comic. It's not by Aaron Lopresti, who drew many truly inspirational moments for our hero in 52 and Generation Lost, including his triumphs over Mister Mind and Max Lord. Nor is it a page from the pen of Booster's prolific creator, Dan Jurgens, though he has crafted so many other memorable Boosterrific moments in the past three-and-a-half decades.
It doesn't even have Blue Beetle or Skeets in it.
No, my favorite Booster Gold panel comes from a most unlikely source, a comic that few people have read since it was released in the middle of the Chromium Age of the 1990s. It was a time after Doomsday had killed destroyed Booster's original technology and our hero had lost much of his previous power and personal identity. (Clothes, after all, do make the man.)
Here's the panel, from the eleventh page of Extreme Justice #12, released November 14, 1995:
Oh, how that gets me every time.
The artists for this piece are Tom Morgan, Ken Branch, and Lee Loughridge, with a lettering assist by Kevin Cunningham. I've always had a soft spot for profiles, and I have notebooks filled with doodles of similar poses. I can't tell you how many gnashed teeth I've drawn in my life. I think it's exceptional how tight the close-up is while still including everything you need to know about the person whose personal space we have violated. Considering that the previous panel is a full body shot, Morgan could have been lazy, but he doesn't skimp the details. The character's iconic blue star seen relegated to the shoulder pad — a literal chip on his shoulder — may be the best part!
But the real reason I love that panel is the writing by the late Robert Washington III and its literary allusion to Tik-Tok, the Clockwork Man of Oz, a mechanical servant/warrior incapable of independent thought or action without the mechanical assistance of its friends. The comparison to Tik-Tok reveals Booster at his most human: a wounded warrior who struggles under the weight of his own heroic expectations and biological frailties. Doubt personified.
Probably because I first encountered it at just the right time in my life, but it has become embedded in my consciousness. I think of this panel often, probably several times a year when I'm feeling worn down by my responsibilities or illness or just life in general. (I probably don't need to tell you, 2020 has been a real test so far.) Somehow, knowing that Booster Gold has experienced the same feelings brightens my outlook. If he found a way to keep going, there's still hope for the rest of us. (I have to believe that won't require entrusting my body to an alternate-universe would-be world conqueror, but a man's got to do what a man's got to do.)
So anyway, maybe it's not the best drawn or the most illuminating or aggrandizing Booster Gold panel, but it's my personal favorite.
Wednesday, July 8, 2020
The best thing about delaying news of DC's new releases until a day after they are released is that it gives me time to see the books before I tell you about them. Or it would, if my Local Comic Ship had received their DC shipment before they closed for the day on Tuesday.
Anyway, as you may have heard (*couch, cough*), yesterday saw the release of Harley Quinn #74, the final chapter in the "California or Death" story (and the next-to-last issue in the current series). There's a preview available on comic-watch.com which was released on Monday (which makes a good case for my not running "New Releases" posts on Mondays).
Booster Gold isn't in the preview, but I promise you he's in there, as this page proves.
We also got DCEASED: Dead Planet #1. This miniseries continues the adventures of last year's DCEASED: A Good Day To Die one-shot. Comic-watch.com has a preview of that, too, proving that a guy who never existed can still put in a cameo appearance. (Confused? Read DCEASED: A Good Day To Die — if you dare!)
But wait, there's more! Booster booster Modinda reminds that the collected edition of the Flash Forward mini-series is now in stores. Booster made a cameo appearance in both issue #1 and the epilogue originally published in Flash #750, but those aren't Booster's only panels in the book.
BleedingCool.com reports that the expanded "Flash Forward: Epilogue" story that had been planned for the never-released Free Comic Book Day 2020 Generation Zero Gods Among Us has been included in the trade. So if you buy it, you'll also get this:
Three Booster Gold comics in one day? 2020 is looking up!
Buy something and make Skeets happy.
UPDATE 2020-07-08: My Local Comic Shop didn't get their shipment of DC Comics on Wednesday, either. Maybe Friday, they now say, which is not encouraging. DC, if you wanted to cut your own throat after leaving Diamond, this is how.
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